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©June 2000

Carol Jane Remsburg



Dying Young or Otherwise



There is an old saying that "the good die young."  I don't necessarily believe it.  However, once you reach a certain age—like nearing 40, you can begin to appreciate the fact that 'good' people do pass.  They may be young or not.  It's just the recognition that life; often an ugly life marches forth after prized people leave their mortal state behind. 


When we arrive in this world we are surrounded by our families and the friends of our families.  We don't often give much thought to any of this.  We simply have arrived and are busy within our own selves with the business of growing and learning.  Once we reach a certain age, a young age, it's not awareness that we've reached but we innately know good from bad.  We know who is nice, who cares about others, and who does not.  Children avoid the latter at all costs unless they are bound up in the horror of abuse where they know they must please and adore the very ones that torment them.


In a more normal aspect, children do know.  They cleave closely to those that spend time, teach, and care.  Those are the cherished years when our families watch over us and lead us without our knowing it.  Life seems carefree.


In a person's life, realization and awareness come later than mere teenage years even when we think it does.  Often, several decades into life aren't enough, yet at some time or another the starkness of life does arrive and we must face it.  We finally discern who is who and what is what.  It isn't always pleasant if you were among the many who thought all in the world were nice.  They aren't.  If you were lucky like I was, you didn't learn this until later on.  When you realize that for most of your life you were surrounded by many who were of the worthy sort, encountering others of a different ilk came as a shock.


There remains a certain part of you that maintains that nearly everyone has a larger portion of good in them.  The rest seem imprinted upon our memories because of the strong badness about them.  It's an aura.  It's memorable.


It's about that time we return to the fold of those we wish to hold tight.  We flee to them for our safety, our sanctuary, and our very sanity.  It means that the lessons we learned in our earliest youth still live on.  Goodness in people does live and thrive.  We just need to keep it in our hearts and to share it with others to keep it alive.


This is a renewed revelation for me.  I've endured many passings and losses.  It matters not how you describe them.  One by one, those I have loved and respected have left me in the mortal sense.  They had lived in the way we all wish we could sans our secret sins which we all hide even the small ones. 


Last week a man died.  He was just a man, yet he was so much more than a simple 'man.'  He was 73 and not a spring chicken by any stretch.  I've known this man all of my life—all 39 and nearly 40 years of it.  They dubbed him "Father Don."  His name was Donald Francis Etherton.  Yea, he was a man of the cloth, but he gave the cloth its gilt glow.  He gave it true humanity and compassion.  The term "a man among men" wasn't a reach for him for he was.  He was all the things a man should be.  He was intelligent, strong, compassionate, and funny.  He worked at his trade and knew no enemies.  Even suffering himself in the physical aspect, a victim of polio in his youth and with later health battles, he was always there.  Nothing ever stopped him.


Not only did he simply soldier on, he found and took the time to foster and inspire others when they thought they were nothing.  He'd take them under his wing and nurture them along until they could fly.  He never took credit for any of his many acts of kindness.


Last week an entire small town closed down to pay tribute to this man.  Me, I'd have preferred a moment or two of world silence.  Everyone should have known this man.  If we all had, this world would be a better place.  Others still live, find them.


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